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Bubblegum Sculptures Become Sea Monsters and Organ Tissue

The Creators Project

By Gabrielle Bruney — Feb 6 2016

Abstraction #1, Transmogrify II by Michael Massaia
Abstraction #1, Transmogrify II by Michael Massaia

Chewed gum is an irritant mostly found on the bottoms of shoes and the undersides of tables. But through the lens of printmaker and photographer Michael Massaia, chewed gum is a beautiful medium for semi-abstracted sculpture. “All of the images are created from a single piece of chewed gum,” Massaia writes of his process.  “I mold all the shapes by using my hand, tongue, and teeth… After I mold them, I mount them onto black plexiglass (or face mount them to regular glass), and photograph the sculpture using either a Creo scanner or a large format camera.”

Broken Heart, Transmogrify II by Michael Massaia
Broken Heart, Transmogrify II

He doesn’t sculpt the gum digitally or colorize it, though he does use high-contrast prints that intensify their colors and texture. It was during an idle gum-chewing session that Massaia realized that bubblegum had the potential to look disarmingly organic. “One night I was sitting around, chewing gum, and blowing bubbles. For some reason I removed a blown intact bubble from my mouth, shaped like a human heart, and looked at it on a light box. I was so amazed by how much it looked like actual organ tissue,” he tells The Creators Project. “The depth, and complexity of the textures was way beyond anything I could have imagined.”

Embryos, Transmogrify II by Michael Massaia
Embryos, Transmogrify II

“By combining this new medium with photography, I felt as if a whole new world was open to me courtesy of Hubba Bubba.”

A New Life, Sea Creature #3, Transmogrify II by Michael Massaia
A New Life, Sea Creature #3, Transmogrify II

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